On a visit to Greymouth on the West Coast auto, I am feeling adventurous, so I decide to give the quad biking a go. That way I can absorb the scenery while having some fun.
On Yer Bike is only five minutes north of Greymouth and offers a biking adventure second to none.
I have a choice of going hard out and experiencing 90 minutes of Mike’s Mighty Mud Track (the muddiest, wettest and most difficult of all its tracks), but seeing as I haven’t really experienced something like this before, I decide to opt for a “magical mix of mud” with the Enchanted Forest Tour. I mean, it can’t be that hard. Can it?
I ask my bubbly tour guide Elizabeth. She assures me the quad bike is pretty straightforward to ride. First, though, I have to deck myself out from head to toe in some waterproof gear. Looking as bald as a bumble bee is bad enough, but having to don a net that looks like a shower cap to cover my hair before putting my helmet on I find wildly amusing. I have a chuckle with Elizabeth about how my attire would definitely not win in the fashion stakes! But hey, this is no fashion parade – it’s all about getting muddy and I can’t wait to get on board my quad bike and master the beast!
After a quick run-down on the safety procedure, how to drive the quad and what to expect on the ride, I use my girl power to manoeuvre the steering control to the right positions for take-off. I am away laughing!
I have always thought quad bikes to be oversized and slow, so you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I am to discover just how grunty and powerful they actually are.
With my hand on the throttle I take off behind Elizabeth as she takes her quad around the practice track. I can’t stop grinning at how quickly I have mastered the art of quad biking and am itching to be let loose into the rainforest! Set me free, pleeaasee….
After a few pointers, Elizabeth agrees I am ready to escape into the forest, and off we go. Yee hah!
Making our way to the track, I admit I am a tad cocky – it all seems a bit too easy. I decide to crank up my quad over the bumpy track. I’m sure my tour guide knows I am feeling over-confident, but she doesn’t let on – she just sweetly reminds me of the safety rules.
When we reach the muddy stream, which Elizabeth describes as the “high tech wheel washer”, I rev my quad bike and just go for it. Mud is spraying everywhere and it’s awesome as I plough my way through.
Then Elizabeth gives the hand signal that we are now entering into the enchanted forest. I am amped. I don’t feel scared at all; I’m just enjoying the ride. As we ride through the rainforest, I try to absorb the moment and stay in control of my bike. It’s exhilarating, until, that is, I happen to notice the bumps are getting bigger, the track is getting tighter and boggier, and I am faced with some steep climbs to master.
Elizabeth advises me to change gear from two wheel drive to four wheel drive. My quad starts skidding all over the place and I’m finding it hard to steer. As we make our way through the dense forest, a thought crosses my mind: “What if this heavy monster rolls and lands on me? It would crush me in seconds!”
I banish it from my head and stay positive.
Now that I have mastered getting up the hill, I have the wonderful task of getting back down. On the way I notice my quad is on a lean and at that point I am feeling a little freaked. I yell out to Elizabeth, “Are you sure I’m going to get down here?”
She nods her head and then tells me the plan. My confidence is back, but those damn lyrics to Paul Simon’s song Slip Sliding Away spring to mind: “You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away!” Arrrgh.
I tell myself to get a grip and get on with it. It’s a bumpy ride and I am skidding all over the place, with a few unexpected wheelies, too.
While it is scary in parts, it’s also thrilling. I mean, that’s what quad biking is all about, isn’t it – the challenge of it all?
I have escaped the worst of it and now I can relax and enjoy my ride back to camp.
As we enter base, I park my quad next to Elizabeth’s and crack a smile.
“How was that?” she asks.
“Pretty cool,” I say. Proudly.